by Michael dEstries
Categories: Eats
Tags: .

A few weeks ago we told you about Travis Barker’s decision to give up his vegetarian diet after doctor’s told him he would “heal faster” from his terrible plane accident by eating meat. Now, it appears that Josh Hartnett was given similar advice — and dropped his veggie ways — after falling ill during filming of The Black Dahlia in 2006.

He explains, “I was shooting a movie in Bulgaria called ‘The Black Dahlia’ and I was boxing for it. I was kind of anemic because I wasn’t eating very much and I was working out all the time. So I went to the doctors to see what he could do.

“He said to me, ‘Do you eat meat?’ When I said no, he told me, ‘You need to eat meat.’ So that was kind of it!”

A vegetarian since the age of 12, Hartnett said it wasn’t that difficult for him to go back to the eating meat. He added, “It wasn’t hard at all – it’s actually pretty good stuff.”

Wow — we’ve seen some pretty fit vegetarians on this site; from the buff star of The Dark Knight, actor Christian Bale, to Ultimate FIghting Champion, vegan Mac Danzig. To say that Hartnett wasn’t getting the results he was looking for because he wasn’t eating meat sounds like BS.

Weigh in below!

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • parrish

    Wow! I did not see this one coming. Way to ruin my day, Michael!

  • Elaine Vigneault

    “I was kind of anemic because I wasn’t eating very much ”

    Sounds like he wasn’t eating enough food period, not that he needed to eat animals.

    Doctors don’t know piss about nutrition. Stay with this story. I am betting in ten years or fewer he’ll develop high cholesterol and have heart problems. Then he’ll go back to his veg ways. Anyone want my action?

  • Moretta

    First confirmation that the Dalai Lama isn’t a vegetarian, now this. I don’t know which disappoints me more.

  • Rachelle

    These doctors need re-educating. They should take some new courses on nutrition. The body doesn’t distinguish animal protein from plant protein. Josh should have gotten a second opinion and then spoken with a few vegan athletes. He didn’t do enough homework. He may have had to eat more (or take veg iron supplements)…but meat itself is unnecessary. What his body needed was a certain vitamin or mineral…and that doesn’t have to come solely from meat. I’ve been an active veggie for 24 years…vegan for the past 8, and I have always had healthy exams each year (knock wood, LOL!). No doctor I have ever had over the course of my life to date has ever told me to start eating meat for any reason.

    I’d like to hear more stories from those celebs who were told to GIVE UP meat for the sake of their health. I know some of them must exist.

  • Alicia

    I think what is happening is that when we get sick we become vulnerable to wanting a quick “fix”. Even though the advice may not be the best we tend to fall into it without much questioning because we are concerned for our health. I think these Doctors need to reevaluate how they deal with patients with alternative diets, and that meat eating is not a solution for health issues.

  • MeatIsGood

    wow you people are bitter and don’t even have good information about nutrition.

  • Emily

    1st: everyone’s body is different. You don’t know what his blood work looked like and you don’t know what his diet was.

    2nd: just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you have high cholesterol and are a moment away from a giant heart attack.

    3rd: you are not dieticians.

    4th: are there other ways for him to get the nutrients he needed? yes. clearly something was missing. Balance somewhere.

    As long as the animals are treated with respect from the moment of birth to the moment they enter your body there can exist a harmonious carnivorous lifestyle.

    That being said: if he shows up at KFC, I’m boycotting all of his movies.

  • Matilda

    Actually Christian Bale isn’t a strict vegetarian as he talked about eating tuna whilst filming The Machinist.

  • Stephanie

    Yes, we are not dietitians and we don’t know what his blood work looked like but all people are saying is that the way he made it sound is the doctor said “YOU NEED MEAT!” and he said “OK!” and really didn’t give any thought to it. If he was committed to his lifestyle for whatever reason, it seems he would have actually TALKED to a dietitians or nutritionist who know way more then doctors about food intake.

    As for “As long as the animals are treated with respect from the moment of birth to the moment they enter your body there can exist a harmonious carnivorous lifestyle.” THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE IN THE FARMING INDUSTRY TODAY.

    Please check out

    The only way to ensure something like that would happen is 1-you hunt your own food 2-you raised and kill the animal yourself

    Commercial farming, even “Free range” and “organic” mean almost NILL as far as animal welfare goes. Pigs still get teeth pulled out, tails cut off, castrated with no anesthetics. All male chicks are still killed at the hatcheries. Most chickens still get de-beaked in the egg laying industry. All unwanted calves from the repeated forced pregnancy of dairy cows STILL get sent to veal farms for slaughter.

    It just isn’t possible. aside from the 2 instances i listed. Unless you have 100% first hand knowledge of where your food is coming from….you don’t know.

  • jaxin

    This disappoints me. I’ve been lucky enough never to have a doctor tell me that, because it would immediately tell me that they would rather throw a quick fix at me, then know anything about nutrition. (Which is usually the case anyway, seeing as how my cholesterol was only 5 points high, and he waned to put me on a dangerous cholesterol medicine.)

    Josh, if you’re listening… go out and buy yourself the book Becoming Vegan and read up so you know that doctor is blowing smoke! You’re famous, pay some runner to go out and buy you food. :D (And some iron pills for now!)

  • e

    I have been fortunate enough to meet Dr. Dean Ornish several years ago who confirmed no I should not eat meat and I am glad I listened to him.

    Secondly Jack Lalanne works out over TWO hours a day and hasn’t eaten meat in nearly 80 years!!!! OH and did I mention he’s 93!!?!

    i have many more examples but our closest relative THE APES are vegetarians and big and strong. I think I’ll stick to their raw healthy diet thank you very much.

    Oh and I had my blood work done (B12 levels etc) all excellent. And I don’t even take a supplement.



    Doctors should not give dietary advice if they don’t get certified in nutrition. It should be something they should never practice and it is dangerous. So if they have no nutrition studies there should be no ability to give advice. Stick to your pills.

    I think this guy is BS but really shows how many people out there do a diet without even researching what they are doing. Goes for meat eaters too. Yeah meat can increase your chances of cancer and heart disease. There is endless amounts of data and evidence showing that. If anyone on this site claims being Green and still eats meat they should probably rethink calling themselves environmental. No happy meat around. Death is not happy so that is not humane. No hating but not all doctors know what they hell they are saying. I am a independent Nutritional researcher and I think anemia = I ate poorly. Just cause your vegetarian or Vegan does not mean healthy and here is a perfect example of ignorance to ones diet. Whole foods is the way to go and eat a variety very simple. Supplement sometimes on B12 to keep your reserves.

  • jamie lynn

    i think it’s sad that someone would throw away what should be such a strong personal belief b/c their doctor said “eat meat” and they blindly said “okay!”. doctors are not infallible, have we forgotten, or they wouldn’t carry exorbitant malpractice insurance. the post makes an excellent example of mac danzig, who is WAAY more ripped out than mr. hartnett could ever be, and he chooses to get protein from animal-free sources. to me, this whole “the doctor said…” excuse is just that–an excuse to give up something that they obviously weren’t serious about to begin with. unfortunately, all the vegans/vegetarians i have known in my life so far have reverted–including my husband, who was veg for over 10 years. i don’t get how a belief in something so important and emotionally charged as killing and eating animals can be tossed aside so easily.

  • Wayne

    I myself am in the middle of researching nutrition so I can make an informed decision over whether to convert to a vegan diet. I eat only home cooked food that I prepare myself. And supplements are a no no. I just don’t believe that they are the way to go, so I will not be taking any B12.

    I have introduced fish (once a week) and chicken (small whole one which I skin and de-bone to make stock and give me and my partner 2 small chicken meals. About 200grams of chicken and 150grams of fish a week each. Hardly glutenous. I avoid dairy as I have asthma. If some one could prove to me that I can get B12 from whole vegan foods then I would ditch the fish and poultry. Anyone got some evidence that stands up?

    I am partially interested in the welfare of the animals but that is not my primary reason for considering a vegan diet. My partner is always watching David Attenborough documentary’s, death seems very natural to me, so please don’t try and engage me in a debate about animal welfare. I am interested in feedback from longterm vegans who don’t supplement b12 and anyone who can show me some evidence that I can get a balanced vegan whole food diet.



  • Elisa

    I think Josh Harnett´s problem wasn´t the vegetarianism… If he had any lack of vitamins or minerals maybe he didn´t eat enogh food… I wish nobody believes that the vegetarianism causes illness. In nowadays doctors should study more about nutrition.

  • Ari Solomon

    This is total rubbish. There is absolutely no dietary requirement for humans to eat meat. Josh Hartnett stated “I was kind of anemic because I wasn’t eating very much.” Vegetarian or not, if you’re not eating enough you’re going to become ill. That doesn’t mean you should run out and start eating animals. There is an abundance of protein and nutrients in plant foods. His doctor must’ve been not been very educated in the area of nutrition (most doctors aren’t).

    Regarding Wayne’s comment above, B12 was available years ago in soil and in water. But today we treat soil and water with so many chemicals and industrially wash our fruits and vegetables that there is no reliable source of B12 from plant foods. Luckily we require very little amounts of B12 and fortified foods such as soy milk, cereals, or even some faux meats are your best bet if you don’t want to physically take a supplement. Regarding your partner watching David Attenborough and you being OK with death. Surely you must be able to make the distinction between animals living in the wild and dying of natural causes versus today’s factory farms where animals are crammed into spaces so tight they can’t even turn around, see the sun, and are horribly abused; only to live out a fraction of their life and die a miserable death. Couple that with animal agriculture being the number one cause of global warming and I think you have a pretty persuasive argument for why veganism is the way to go. Please check out and

  • Kelly

    It just goes to show you how idiotic people can be.There are hardly any docs that actually know about health. It’s so easy to get enough nutrients without eating tortured dead bodies.

  • Angela

    Wheatberries…great for people with anemia–I have anemia. Josh should have gotten a second opinion.

  • Wayne


    I don’t which to eat fortified foods….kind of goes against the whole-foods philosophy. And like I said I don’t wish to discuss animal welfare or global warming at this time.

    There seems to be many nutrition experts here!!! Can we have some example daily meal plans please :)….and of course include the nutrition info as well please.

  • VeggieTart

    What a twit. It’s not that you weren’t eating meat, Josh, it’s that you weren’t eating enough food.

    I think some of them are lying. I think they decide they’re tired of being vegan for some weird reason and decide to go back to meat. Witness how he said it was easy and it was pretty good stuff.

  • Emily

    Hey Stephanie – I actually do know EXACTLY where my food comes from (example: the farmer who provides my eggs is named Amy and she’s very nice).

    So stop attacking me because you disagree with my lifestyle.

    And again – all you know is what he told the press. BACK OFF.

  • Rachelle

    Wayne…have you done any independent research on the ‘Net (or elsewhere) regarding vegan/veggie daily meal plans with nutrition info listed…or are you simply trying to test us? LOL! I don’t have the time to honor your request…but I think with a bit more research, you’ll find the info yourself…perhaps on a few vegan cooking websites. :)

    You MAY be able to do a strictly whole foods diet and still get every nutrient the body needs (I can’t say with complete certainty because I don’t do STRICTLY whole foods). For example, If you want complete protein…try eating quinoa with any variety of beans or lentils….Just find ways to mix it up so your taste buds don’t get bored. But why NOT drink soy milk that is fortified with B-12? It’s still a healthier choice than meat. Someone here mentioned Dr. Dean Ornish…I’ll add Dr. Neal Barnard as someone you may want to look up regarding the veg/vegan diet as well. They are well informed on nutrition for veggies/vegans.

  • Matilda

    “i have many more examples but our closest relative THE APES are vegetarians and big and strong. I think I’ll stick to their raw healthy diet thank you very much.”

    Do your research, apes are not vegetarians.

  • Wayne

    Rachelle……yes I have, so much so that I plan to do a recipe book ;)…..My own wish is to have a healthy diet which consists of home cooked whole foods which will provide me with all the nutrients necessary for vitality……When I watch my girlfriends nature films I can’t help but marvel at how every works synergistically together….My instincts tell me that I should try and live that way as best as I can. To me food supplements and fortified products are exactly that…PRODUCTS…..I want food….This doesn’t mean however, that I don’t believe in some form of evolution. The only thing that is permanent is change…so I won’t be retreating to the trees to be with my fellow apes. You of course are more than welcome :)

    So maybe you can appreciate my dilemma with regards to B12…..Protein isn’t my concern. I could go vegetarian but dairy gives me asthma….so I can’t get B12 there either….so what am I to do?

  • Wayne

    this is for the benefit of Erin

    “Thirdly, the human gut is smaller overall than that of the other great apes and the human colon takes up just 20% of the digestive system compared with 50% in the other great apes. This results in a dramatically reduced capability to process fibre, indicating that humans are adapted to a lower fibre diet than the other great apes, who consume several hundred grams of fibre per day. Our palaeolithic ancestors consumed around 100 g of fibre per day. Simply copying the other great apes is therefore not an option.”

    taken from the vegansociety’s website.

  • lvleph

    I was told the same thing 10 yrs ago. I actually then cut eggs from my diet and guess what, I am still a vegetarian and still alive.

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  • Leanne

    Just look at Bendan Brazier, vegan triathlete. He actually stopped eating meat in order to IMPROVE his athletic performance.

  • Kr

    It says he went to the Doctors. It did not say the doctor was a GP, the doctor may well have had a degree in nutrition.

    In addition, the people getting on a high horse about what is essentially a personal decision, are simply damaging the idea of being a vegi or vegan, and strenghten the idea that we are all holier than thou steriotypes.

    To the guy who said that humane farming is not possible, you need to do some research on the subject, agreed the majoritory of farms are not humane, but there are some that are.

    Like somone has already mentioned, every persons body is different, and it is up to them, not us to decide (with what information is available to us) the best for our own bodys.

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  • Alexander Hawkeswood

    Whether or not an animal is treated humanely whilst alive, culling it is inhumane however it’s done. And even if it doesn’t suffer whilst being killed, the animal most probably doesn’t want to have its life ended

  • Alexander Hawkeswood

    My previous comment (the very first one) has been edited. Don’t know why, there was nothing offensive in it. Other than perhaps expressing that it’s nonsense to be told you need meat. But that’s just a fact. There’s absolutely every nutrient you need available on a vegan diet. Wayne, you want to know of completely natural sources of vitamin B12. Well there’s alfalfa, comfrey, mushrooms and spirulina. Traces of organic soil on root vegetables is another one. Some vegans don’t have any obvious sources of vitamin B12 and aren’t found to be lacking in this nutrient many years later. This is because they are able to reabsorb B12 in their gut. In any case vegans live on average 15 years longer than meat eaters. Josh Hartnett gave up eating meat because he saw a tumour in a dead chicken he was preparing. So maybe he wasn’t really into the ethics of not eating meat. Possibly the gross memory faded and trying to correct his anaemia became more important to him

  • Alexander Hawkeswood

    Just thought I’d correct that my edited comment was actually the very last one. Though this one is now!

  • Alexander Hawkeswood

    Actually the comment I made in 2009 wasn’t edited. I found out a short while ago that I made a comment about this story regarding Josh on another web page and got it mixed up with this one

  • Veggie Lover

    Hi Alexander,
    Do you happen to know if it’s possible to re-build worn out tooth enamel and heal recceding gums naturally?
    Thanks in advance,
    Veggie Lover